OPINION: Conceal and carry exemption expiring causes fear, safety concerns

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As of July 1, the exemption for carrying concealed weapons on Kansas university campuses expired. This will allow any individual who is more than 21 years old, a resident of the United States, not mentally ill and who does not possess a felony to have the right to legally conceal and carry in Kansas now including college and university campuses, including Kansas State University.

In addition to the exemption expiring, Senate Bill 45 was passed in 2015, which was an amendment to the Personal and Family Protection Act that eliminated the need for individuals to have a permit or to go through gun safety training in order to legally conceal and carry a weapon.

Since the exemption’s expiration date has come and passed, it has caused university faculty, staff and especially students to feel unsafe stepping onto campus. According to a June 23 Manhattan Mercury article by Dylan Lysen, at least four faculty members have cited this exemption expiring as the specific reason why they left or are leaving the university either temporarily or permanently.

But for those who are left having to deal with the turmoil of this policy, there is little one can do to explain the fear that comes from a policy like this, especially as members of marginalized communities and who teach controversial and/or disliked subjects at K-State.

There are people out there who conceal and carry. There are people can conceal and carry responsibility. But looking at faces in a classroom or while walking on campus, we do not and cannot differentiate those people from those who have minimal knowledge about handguns, including proper safety.

Stepping into a classroom will be, if it is not already, fear-inducing. One might stand there and wonder who is potentially concealing and carrying. Who has a weapon who could significantly harm, if not kill, another human being if they are frustrated or angry about the course? Will course content during lecture set off this student, or will professors/instructors be harmed during office hours when discussing grades students are angry about?

Faculty left because of the exemption expiring, and a level of pseudo-safety is gone now that concealing and carrying is allowed on campus. We are exhausted having to try to rationalize our fears to others in conversation. Logic has left arguments. Emotions and lived experiences are the roots.

We live in a world where threats are real and come to fruition all the time.

The noose incident May 5 reinforced how individuals on our campus and in our Manhattan community still live in a world where deeply historically racist imagery is OK. The incident reminded our campus that overt racism is alive and well, and the incident was a reminder that individuals in our community still believe in racially-rooted violence, as well as violence against other marginalized populations.

The May 5 noose incident should have taught our campus how to listen to students, faculty and staff about the fear they experience coming to campus every single day. But it did not. When we are able to listen to others and sympathize with what they are experiencing, that is when we learn from their experiences, especially when their experiences are oppression.

Our university needs to actually have action behind the words they say. If the university says it cares about diversity, then give more money to departments that teach diversity. If the university says it cares about its students’ safety, then it needs to investigate rapes and sexual assaults that happen on and off campus to K-State students. If the university hears members of the campus community state multiple times over they are fearful of this conceal and carry exemption that expired, then listen.

The university needs to always be student-centered in its actions and policies.

The diversity of our campus is what makes K-State such a strong land-grant, research university. The fear about the exemption that ended is coming from diverse and systematically and institutionally marginalized populations. When marginalized communities are vocal about their fears of conceal and carry on campus, the voice of their fear seems to dissipate when entrusted to those within our institution who can make effective change.

Rather than silencing the fear, the exemption expiring is causing the loss of more faculty, staff and students. The university should implement tactics to create a safer and less fear-driven campus climate. Emporia State University’s administrators hosted open forums where campus community members could ask administrators face-to-face questions and actually receive answers about the exemption expiring. ESU consequently learned from the open forum and implemented training modules that were inclusive to learning how to protect oneself.

A recommendation is K-State take similar steps. This university needs to actually have dialogue with those experiencing this fear and/or leaving the university because of this policy.

But why should we have to attend classes and/or work on a campus where we have to learn to protect ourselves against guns rather than continuing to allow the exemption? Why expose those at the university in such undue and unjust harm?

Jakki Forester is a graduate student in communication studies. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]

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  • Ricardo Cabeza

    Jakki,
    You have too much fear to live among people. I suggest you move to an isolated village somewhere or out in the wilderness on your own. Preferably in another country. Venezuela is supposed to be really nice (and they have Socialism there and I’m guessing you would enjoy that).

    • Albatrossity

      The folks who have to carry a gun when they step out of their house are the folks who actually live in “too much fear”.

      • Kansasconserv

        I carry concealed…….I don’t fear anything. I have a fire extinguisher, I wear a seatbelt, I wear safety glasses when using power tools, I have flashlights in my home, and I get a flu shot every year. I don’t do all this out of fear; I do it because I’m prepared and proactive. So I don’t carry concealed out of fear. I do it to be prepared to protect myself and my family.

        • Albatrossity

          “..protect myself and my family”. From what? From things you fear.

          Nobody said you feared fires, or car wrecks, or power tools. Those are strawman arguments. You win those. Congratulations.

  • LTCJWKS

    Ms Forester: There has been an actual but unintended controlled experiment done on the effect of concealed carry versus “gun free.” When Colorado passed concealed carry in 2004 it included universities. However, University of Colorado in the People’s Republic of Boulder fought the law in court while Colorado State University in Fort Collins went ahead and allowed concealed carry. The result was that in the next 8 years until the CO Supreme Court told CU they would have to permit CCW, the crime rate at CSU went down 60% while it went UP 35% at CU. The two schools are situated in similar sized cities and have about the same number of students and their students are drawn from the same demographic.

    In six months everyone will have forgotten about this kerfuffle over the implementation of this law and you will enjoy a safer campus.

    One thing I doubt that you are aware of is that your senior leadership at KSU actually committed fraud. The law when revised in 2013 allowed for a delay in allowing CCW for public buildings IF the responsible leadership filed an affidavit with the State that they had a plan for full security (access control, armed guards, metal detectors) and they needed time to put the equipment and procedures in place. That allegation was not true, if they had a plan not a single action was taken to put it into action in that four years. I don’t know whether that constitutes legal fraud but it was certainly duplicitous.

    • Albatrossity

      Your comparison is apples and oranges. Colorado and other concealed carry states have licensing/training requirements and/or background checks before you are allowed to conceal carry. Kansas has none of that. It is the first and only state to allow campus carry without any requirement whatsoever. So comparing our situation with those of other states is invalid. There are no comparisons.

      • LTCJWKS

        The percentage of people who are going to carry without a state CCW is very small. The reason is that states like KS and MO who have so called Constitutional Carry limit it to legal residents of their state – so if one intends to carry regularly – in this state that usually means that you will be crossing state lines in your normal course of business and you have to have a reciprocal CCW permit to be legal in any neighboring state.

        • Albatrossity

          Your guess about who will carry is based on nothing more than your intuition. I could just as easily intuit that additional students will be carrying after their dad or mom gives them a gun to “keep them safe”. Both of us are working with no evidence, just guesses.

          Furthermore, as you may know, there is legislation in the US house to allow concealed carry reciprocity across state lines. https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170609/concealed-carry-reciprocity-effort-gains-steam-in-congress
          If that happens, your guess becomes even more speculative.

  • Kansasconserv

    I would still like to know what classes are being taught on these campuses that would so inflame a student that the said student would ‘go ballistic’. I suggest that all classes be reviewed as to their appropriateness and educational value. I just can’t see that college algebra, art exploration, basic economics, or biology will cause such turmoil in the student’s and make them suddenly become violent towards their professors and fellow students………

    • Albatrossity

      You need to take some more interesting classes. There are plenty of classes where emotions can be provoked in the course of teaching controversial and thought-provoking material. History. Sociology. Women’s Studies. Philosophy. Creative writing. Anthropology. etc.

      • Kansasconserv

        I took History, Sociology, Philosophy, and Anthropology and graduated in 1995. Those classes must have been taught a lot better back then since there was no one going ‘ballistic’ in ANY of my college classes. Or maybe the students back then weren’t encouraged by liberals to become snowflakes that needed ‘safe spaces’ and the professors weren’t trying to overthrow the government.

        • Albatrossity

          Don’t know any professors who are “trying to overthrow the government”. And I’m betting I know a lot more professors than you do. And frankly, the gun crowd makes a lot more noises about overthrowing the government than any professors I know. So you could be confused about that.

          • Kansasconserv

            You can have that “I know a lot more professors than you do” because that’s not necessarily something to be proud of. And the professors that push the “resist” movement….well, that is going against our government. I am very much against liberal professors teaching their BS. And, truthfully, I don’t know of “the gun crowd” making noises about overthrowing the government. That’s again some of your liberal BS.
            Not at all confused. That’s the standard liberal thoughts. They seem to think that they are the ONLY ones that know ANYTHING…….and yet they are always spouting of such inaccurate info.

          • Albatrossity

            I am proud of knowing lots of smart people. Your mileage obviously varies.

            And I hate to be the one to break this to you, but resisting a particular president is NOT “going against the government”. I’m willing to bet you “resisted” the last president, so you might be guilty of that same sin. Or you might be wrong about what resisting means.

            Finally, there are plenty of examples of gun advocates yammering about government overthrow. Skip Coryell, one of the organizers of the 2010 Second Amendment March in DC, wrote this: “My question to everyone reading this article is this: “For you, as an individual, when do you draw your saber? When do you say, “Yes, I am willing to rise up and overthrow an oppressive, totalitarian government?”…I hear the clank of metal on metal getting closer, but that’s not enough. The politicians have to hear it too. ”

            And Tim McVeigh was an NRA member. What was his position on government overthrow?

          • Kansasconserv

            Quite the bloated ego there.
            You know, my daddy always told me “Never argue with stupid people. They’ll only bring you down to their level and then they’ll beat you with experience”. I’ve found that arguing with liberals is the same way. I’m not saying that you win this argument, though. I’m saying my time is a lot more valuable so I’m not wasting any more of my time on you.

          • Albatrossity

            And my daddy always said that when folks resort to insults, they know that they have lost the argument on the issues.

            Enjoy your weekend.

      • Doug Albrecht

        Can you give a real world example from one of these classes where the discussion was “emotionally provoked”?

        • Albatrossity

          Discussing evolution in a biology class. Discussing abortion in a sociology class. Discussing slavery and Jim Crow era lynchings in a history class.

          And probably, if this comment thread is any indication, discussing gun control in any class.

          But classrooms are not the only place where heated discussions take place. Our august legislature has decreed that guns are also not banned from disciplinary hearings, where students are under threat of sanctions up to and including expulsion, for actions such as plagiarism, cheating, harrassment, assault, etc. They are not banned from meetings where faculty or staff are being fired or told that they will not be promoted or tenured. All of those are emotionally charged situations. None of them will be improved by the prospect of one or more parties carrying a firearm.

          • Doug Albrecht

            OK, so you have been present for all of those discussions you listed above? Or those are “could happens”?
            And since you are coming across as a student, can I ask your major?

          • Albatrossity

            I am a faculty member, not a student. And I have been present for some of those discussions, and heard about the others from fellow faculty members.

            And I’d like to hear your opinion about the wisdom of letting folks carry firearms to any of those discussions.

          • Doug Albrecht

            Your comments throughout this discussion show what you think of legal concealed carry by students or others on campus.
            So I will end with: Shootings that have occurred in gun free zones have been planned out by the perpetrators, I haven’t read that any have been immediate reaction incidents.
            The law is allowing people to carry for protection. If you are going to piss people off in a classroom, I’m going to bet that the person that comes back to shoot you won’t be a day to day concealed carrier.
            But be scared, that’s your right. It’s like the guy who wrote to our local paper that he was going to be scared to walk his dog when the original concealed carry law was passed.
            Have a good one. I’m out!

          • Albatrossity

            You’re out because you cannot defend the insanity of having firearms in situations that happen regularly on campuses when asked a direct question about it. I’ve given you solid arguments against the policy; you’ve bailed without any rebuttal except the same old NRA red herrings. Which does not address my question.

            Sad!

          • Doug Albrecht

            Your fears about something that “might happen” do not win out over the rights of others to protect themselves.
            I suggest you take a firearms safety course, maybe buy a gun, practice, and keep it with you in class.
            Because after all, in your world, scary things are about to happen!

          • Albatrossity

            I thought you were “out”. Oh, well, this gives me another chance to ask “I’d like to hear your opinion about the wisdom of letting folks carry firearms to any of those discussions.”

            And please try to address that directly, rather than toss out the NRA platitudes this time.

            And as to your opinions about rights, you might educated yourself about the 2008 USSC ruling in District of Columbia v Heller. In the majority opinion, no less a gun luminary than Antonin Scalia wrote ““Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

            Scalia disagrees with you. Schools and government buildings (KSU qualifies under both of those) are places where your rights can be restricted in deference to other rights and considerations.

            Now answer my question. I’ve answered all of yours.

          • Doug Albrecht
          • Albatrossity

            In other words, you have no original thoughts on the topic.

            And you would rather compare apples and oranges, as has been pointed out numerous times. The Texas law allows firearms to be excluded from disciplinary hearings; the Kansas law does not. Texas requires an application to carry that includes a criminal background check, fingerprinting, a written exam and proficiency testing. Kansas does not. So your linked article discussing Texas faculty concerns is not relevant to the concerns of Kansas faculty and students, no matter how much you’d like to pretend otherwise.

            Nice try, though.

          • Albatrossity

            And I might add that fears about what “might happen” are exactly why people carry concealed firearms. Why do your fears trump the fears of others? Especially since the data pretty solidly show that accidental shootings with firearms outnumber “good guy with a gun” incidents by a huge margin.

  • Doug Albrecht

    I am so sorry to hear of your fears. As an alum of KSU I am not concerned with an active concealed carry person sitting next to my child in a classroom. People have been carrying weapons for years, both legally and illegally. Do you think that you have not been in contact with a concealed weapon in your life so far? Do you think that guns have not been in a classroom already?
    I assume you are also scared to drive a car where the chance of injury is much greater? I realize that this is “uncomfortable” for you. Heck I bet you didn’t know that there are people who are uncomfortable around gay people…crazy huh? Yes, about as crazy as being scared of a gun.

    • Albatrossity

      Umm, gay people are not designed to kill. Analogy fail.

      • Doug Albrecht

        The discussion was about unfounded fear… Of which you seem to be loaded with!

        • Albatrossity

          Unfounded fear is what I was talking about. Unfounded fear is what makes some snowflakes think that they need to carry guns whenever they step out of the house. And fear of gay people is lots more unfounded than fear of guns, because, as I pointed out, the purpose of a gun is to kill or maim, and the purpose of a gay person is not.

          • Kansasconserv

            I am around a lot of people who shoot……and there are even some gay people who shoot…and train to protect themselves with guns. You are so totally ignorant to make the statement that “gay people are not designed to kill”……….my gay friends will get a good laugh out of your statement!!! lol

          • Albatrossity

            Ignorant? So you think that the purpose of gay persons is to kill?

            Where is the evidence for that statement?

          • Kansasconserv

            Your statement “gay people are not designed to kill” is ignorant. You made a blanket statement…. I didn’t say “the purpose” of gay persons is to kill……I said I know gay people who train to protect themselves with guns. Mine wasn’t a blanket statement.
            I do believe that, if someone tried to stab one of my gay friends who also shoots, my gay friend’s purpose at that point will be to kill or maim.
            Again, I’m not saying ALL gay persons…..smh

          • Albatrossity

            Yeah, you made a “blanket statement” that ignored my point. “Gay people are not designed to kill” is saying the same thing as “killing is not the purpose of gay persons.” Fear of something that is designed to kill is healthy. Fear of another human being because of their sexual preferences is not.

    • Pamela White McGlynn

      You do realize that the requirement to care a gun is only being 21 years old and not havinga criminal record. Anyone can get a gun whether they know how to use it or not. I’m glad you are not scared for your child. I hope nothing happens to them. My greatest fear is accidental discharge from inexperience gun owners. What recourse do I have if a young woman puts her backpack down next to me in a bathroom stall and I get shot? You are making the assumption that all concealed carry persons will be responsible. I am NOT.

      • Kevin Stoll

        Get shot? Not unless you reach in her backpack, and pull the trigger. You are far more likely to sit down and die of a heart attack, or die in a car accident than be shot accidentally. Guns don’t just magically shoot people when set down. even dropping them will not make most guns go off. Chances are you have been in classrooms with guns already. Let me ask, how does putting up a no guns sign stop criminals? If signs worked, everywhere would have a no robberies sign, and we would never have robberies again. Maybe we could put no death signs up, and we will all live forever.

        • Albatrossity

          By your logic, we should have no laws whatsoever.

          • Kansasconserv

            Kevin Stoll wasn’t talking about getting rid of any laws. He made a very good point about the stupidity of people thinking that a sign on a door says that the building is “gun free” could possibly make anyone safe. Do you put a sign up on your house saying “no burglars” or do you lock your doors?

          • Albatrossity

            More strawman arguments. I didn’t say he was “talking about getting rid of any laws”. I said his logic led to that conclusion, which I think is still true. Laws can be broken, signs can be ignored, nobody is arguing that point. So you win that argument with yourself again. But if you want to argue against the actual point (there is no pressing need to put more guns in the hands of untrained people on college campuses), feel free to do so.